As smartphones have become de facto computers for some people, they have offered an added advantage of almost being impossible to hack. With the closed off and tightly controlled mobile phone industry of the United States offering a mobile system that has both advanced software impenetrable to significant malware and that is isolated from the rest of the world, American mobile phone users are generally heavily protected from danger behind a wall of mobile security that is generally stronger than it is for smartphone users overseas.
The first threat that seemed like it could have a real affect on the mobile phone industry in the U.S.was the recent iPhone virus that circulated the news late last month, which could allow criminals to control your phone just by sending a single text message. However, it was revealed quickly that it would take a significant amount of time until hackers gained the necessary amount of code to amount this type of attack, and Apple plugged the vulnerability by circulating a software patch.
This threat reminded users of iPhones and similar products like BlackBerry’s that they are extremely lucky these devices only have significant pull in America. American smartphones are apparently the red-headed step children of the industry, and thus virus writers can’t be bothered writing malicious code for so few targets. As long as only Americans consume iPhones like candy, our smartphones are not targets.
“The likelihood of getting hit by mobile malware is almost nonexistent,” said Mikko H. Hyppönen, the chief research officer at F-Secure, which writes software to detect and remove viruses from desktop and mobile devices.
F-Secure has analyzed 490 mobile viruses over the past five years, in the same time period during which more than two million viruses were made for Windows computers. Even more significant, the small number of mobile attacks found were not very advanced and rather juvenile. They were not attacks that would truly leave a mark, such as hacks for financial or personal data.
“They’re done by hobbyists,” Mr. Hyppönen said. “Stupid attacks to leave funny displays.”
The one other significant advantage that mobile devices have as protection is that of mobile device makers and wireless carriers being able to control what people place on their phones. Carriers are able to filter for spam and content that would cause you to download malware via text message. Also, mobile software shops such as the Apple App Store test and approve programs before selling them. For owners of Windows devices, for which the Windows Mobile Marketplace does not debut until the fall, there are excellent software add-ons from places such as Handmark and Best Buy.
In the well-protected market that is America, the only major wireless carrier that recommends customers to buy antivirus software for their phone is Verizon Wireless. However, all companies give out common-sense tips such as not responding to e-mail or text messages from strangers. They also tell you to use your software update button on your phone, as companies frequently issue updates on catching hackers.
In the end, wireless companies have a firm grip on their networks in America. Mobile phone users are severed from outside influence and safe from harm. They and the companies are one, in a protective embrace. (Via the New York Times)step